The Astros beat the Twins 3-1 to clinch the first spot in the Division Series round. It was a masterful pitching performance by the Astros that featured some absolutely bone-headed mistakes from the Twins, which you need sometimes to advance. Houston's next game is in Los Angeles on Monday against either the White Sox or A's, whichever one wins today.
Let's just put this in the proper context:
At 24-7, no MLB team won more games at home than the Minnesota Twins.
At 9-23, Houston had the third-worst road record in MLB.
Houston had not won two consecutive road games since August 19-20, 2020. Minnesota had not lost two consecutive home games since September 11-12, 2019.
Minnesota has now lost 18 straight postseason games dating back to October 5, 2004. The day after that Twins win over the Yankees, the Astros got home runs from Brad Ausmus, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Lane to take a 1-0 lead in the NLDS over the Braves. Roger Clemens, Chad Qualls, and Mike Gallo locked it down.
MLB playoff wins since 2013, when the Astros joined the American League:
LA Dodgers: 34
Kansas City: 22
Chicago Cubs: 19
St. Louis: 18
NY Yankees: 15
San Francisco: 14
NY Mets: 8
Tampa Bay/Milwakee: 6
Arizona/Chicago White Sox/Colorado/Miami: 1
Anaheim/Cincinnati/Minnesota/Philadelphia/San Diego/Seattle: 0
*On Monday I picked Cleveland to win the AL Pennant, so of course they got swept by the Yankees in the 1st Round.
*Jose Altuve was hitless for the second straight game. The last time he didn't get a hit in consecutive postseason games was Game 6/7 of the 2017 World Series. Houston is 6-9 in postseason games when Altuve doesn't get a hit.
The Astros had two extra-base hits in two games: Brantley's double on Tuesday and Correa's home run, his 12th postseason home run. The Astros' postseason HR leaderboard:
14: George Springer
12: Carlos Correa
11: Jose Altuve
10: Alex Bregman
7: Carlos Beltran
6: Lance Berkman
5: Yuli Gurriel, Mike Lamb
4: Jason Lane, Colby Rasmus
3: Brad Ausmus, Ken Caminiti, Robinson Chirinos, Marwin Gonzalez, Jeff Kent
2: Alan Ashby, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Chris Burke, Morgan Ensberg, Carlos Gomez, Martin Maldonado, Josh Reddick, Daryle Ward
1: Yordan Alvarez, Derek Bell, Michael Brantley, Chuck Carr, Chris Carter, Vinny Castilla, Raul Chavez, Glenn Davis, Bill Doran, Tony Eusebio, Evan Gattis, Billy Hatcher, Art Howe, Tony Kemp, Brian McCann, Dickie Thon, Luis Valbuena.
I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people don't want to see us here. But what are they going to say now?
We had a tough year since the start of Spring Training, but now it's all about playing great baseball. I think we showed everybody we have a solid team. Minnesota, in a lot of brackets, was supposed to win the World Series. We swept a great team in Minnesota, and I think we deserve a lot of respect as a team. We played great baseball, our pitching staff did a great job, we got some clutch hits and we were able to win the series.
The Astros are getting dunked on for "not being remorseful" and "not owning their Transgressions against the Very Game of Base Ball." I sort of get it, but got dang, just...
We're excited. A lot of guys didn't have us winning this series. We did what we had to do to win this series. We're happy. We wanted it. This is a team that knows how to win in the playoffs, and we showed one more time what we are capable of.
Of course I don't like what happened in 2017, and I hold Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora responsible, but everyone on that team was also responsible. If you hate them, you don't have to move on. There is no one who can help you move on besides yourselves. And if you decide not to, then Godspeed.
*FanGraphs: Twins postseason woes continue as Astros sweep.
*Brian T. Smith: Astros look like playoff Astros again with easy knockout of Twins. Ehhhhh I don't know about that.
*McTaggart: Dusty Baker has unfinished business. Dusty:
I've still got some things I want to accomplish, and a championship is one of them...I didn't think I'd ever get another chance. Even when I was winning, I was still losing at the end. I know that in my heart and I know that in my mind I've always been a winner all my life. You've got to continue to think positive, continue to persevere, and I built a lot of character along the way. They said that perseverance builds character. Well, I got enough character now to [give some away].
Dusty Baker has managed five different teams to the playoffs. He's now 12-13 in the postseason.
*Kyle Tucker had two different RBI singles. He is in for 2021 and beyond. Tucker, on his 1st Inning RBI single:
That was the first fastball they had thrown me in the series. I figured in that situation they would try to throw it 96(mph), and they did. It kinda worked out for us.
*Chandler Rome: Inside the pivotal pickoff of Byron Buxton. Never forget that 2012 1-1 pick Carlos Correa hit a home run in Game 2 and 2012 1-2 pick Byron Buxton got picked off at the worst time.
After the game Strommy came up to me & said you did an unbelievable job with those young guys. I told him, from the bottom of my heart, the reason why we are here is because of them.
*The incredible story of Andrew Watson, the first Black international soccer player.
*NY Times Magazine: Up, Up, and Away From It All - A climb in the Tetons with Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, Savannah Cummins, and Manoah Ainuu.
*The Guardian: Is the USMNT in danger of developing into a world-class outfit?
*You can get Out of the Park Baseball 21 for $9.99.
*A Musical Selection. Fare thee well, Minnesota: